Cilantro Citrus Chicken and Rice

Last weekend I went through my cookbook and made a list of recipes to make this month, with an accompanying list of ingredients that became my shopping list. When I make lunch each day, I remind myself to get meat out of the freezer to thaw for dinner at the same time. After picking which meat I’m in the mood for, choosing from a handful of recipes makes dinner less overwhelming. Planning makes dinner prep much easier, and leads to much more cohesive meals, like this one: Cilantro Citrus Chicken with Cilantro Citrus Rice and Spicy Chili Cooked Carrots.

Cilantro Citrus Chicken with Cilantro Citrus Rice and Spicy Chili Carrots

Today I chose chicken, and my fiance chose Cilantro Citrus Chicken from the list of chicken recipes. I originally clipped this recipe from Cooking Light, and it called for 12 8-oz bone-in chicken breasts. I cut the rest of the recipe in half for nearly 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts, and it ended up being nearly perfect. I’d say these amounts I used are spot-on for about a pound of chicken.

Cilantro Citrus Chicken Recipe

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb chicken
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

The original recipe calls for the first 7 ingredients to be mixed in a food processor before adding with the chicken to marinade for an hour. I just add the ingredients straight into a marinading dish with the chicken, adding a few tablespoons of pineapple juice I had on hand and subbing fresh parsley for dried because that’s what I had. I’d say that blending in a processor is optional.

At this point, I notice a similar recipe on the opposite page in my cookbook, a recipe for Swanson Citrus Chicken & Rice. I decided to incorporate this rice recipe, featuring similar flavors, to serve with my Cilantro Citrus Chicken.

So, after about 45 minutes of marinating the chicken, I began preparing the liquid for the rice. (Keep reading for the rest of the chicken recipe!)

Swanson Citrus Rice

  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz)(1 3/4 cups) Swanson chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

For once in my life, I didn’t have any chicken broth on hand (sorry, Swanson). So after adding 1/2 cup orange juice, I filled a 1-cup measure with the rest of the OJ (a few tablespoons), plus the rest of the pineapple juice (a few tablespoons), a few drops of lime juice, and about half a cup of white wine to fill the remainder of the cup. To this I added 3/4 cup of water (so this creative concoction equaled the 1 3/4 cups broth originally called for).

Bring this to a boil, then add one cup of white rice. Reduce heat to simmering, cover, and stir often while cooking for about 18-20 minutes. I add about 3 Tbsp of fresh cilantro instead of parsley to the cooked rice, mimicking the flavors of the chicken to make Cilantro Citrus Rice.

At the same time I start the rice, I heat olive oil in two separate skillets – one for the chicken and one for my mom’s Spicy Chili Cooked Carrots. This one is simple: a few small handfuls of organic baby carrots, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet (makes just enough for 2 servings). Cover and cook a few minutes on med-high until they start sizzling. Add a pad of butter then sprinkle generously with chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic and black pepper. Cover and cook till soft.

Meanwhile, add the salt, cumin and pepper to the chicken. The original recipe called for grilling, but it is January in Cleveland after all, so I pan-fry instead. Add the chicken and some juice to the heated, oiled pan, and cook till browned outside and no longer pink inside. The juices from the marinade brown into a nice sauce, so this alternative to grilling works well.

We both really liked this meal of Cilantro Citrus Chicken with Cilantro Citrus Rice and Spicy Chili Carrots. We’ll definitely make it again! 

Chicken Pear Protein Salad

The latest healthy meal in my recent kick was inspired by, well, the ingredients in the fridge that needed to be used up. When you stock your fridge with fruits and veggies, you get salads packed with anti-oxidants, protein and – most importantly – variety from boring ol’ greens.
You get something like:
Chicken Pear Protein Salad
chicken pear protein salad recipe
  • We start with the leftover Mango Salsa from the Meal of Mangoes, and add a heavy sprinkle of sunflower seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds. This goes into half of a red, round bowl.
  • Into the other half of the bowl goes a leafy mix of spinach and kale, both organic, of course.
  • Meanwhile, the chicken breast left over from Enchilada Night grills on the Foreman. Then, sliced, it tops the salad.
  • Meanwhile, one sliced pear with a handful of dried cranberries saute in the skillet with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wasabi powder. The fruit, along with any remaining ‘warm dressing,’ then top the chicken atop the salad.
  • For a final touch, some sliced scallions top the pears atop the chicken atop the salad. Ta-da.
Of course, variety is the key to any tolerable salad IMHO: fruits and veggies, nuts and berries, greens and reds and yellows. And here, even the cold crunch of chilled veggies contrasts with the warm tenderness of the pears and chicken for a variety of textures and temperatures that almost makes me forget I’m eating a salad at all – and, to me, that’s a good salad.

Enchilada Night

I know enchiladas are not difficult or daunting to prepare by any means, but they do take a whole pan’s worth of commitment to make. I can recall countless times helping my mom throw a pan together to feed the whole family. But, until tonight, I had never created a pan of enchiladas – let alone a complete Mexican meal.
homemade shredded chicken enchiladas  with chicken rice, refried beans and guacamole ethnic mexican recipes
OK, so I just followed the basic recipe on the can of enchilada sauce, and the refried beans and rice came straight from a can and box, respectively. But still – I made a complete Mexican meal on my own.

Easy Shredded Chicken Enchiladas:

  • Grill 2 chicken breasts, totaling about one pound, on the trusty Foreman to peak juiciness. Shred (which can be great angst-relief).
  • Combine the shredded chicken with 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce and a handful or so of shredded mozzarella cheese. (Officially, I think it called for 1 cup.)
  • Spoon this filling into tortilla shells. Tuck in the ends, fold one side of the shell over, and roll the rest of the way closed so the seal is on the bottom of the pan. Oh yeah, we’re using a 13×9 pan, right? And the oven should probably be heating up. (Because I made big fat enchiladas, I stuffed 5 with this filling recipe…which allegedly makes 8-10 regular skinny-chiladas.)
  • Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over your enchiladas, no matter how fat or skinny they are, and sprinkle with another half cup (or smaller handful) of shredded cheese.

Accompanied by:
  • Rice-a-Roni chicken rice (how’s that for authentic?)
  • Refried Beans
  • Guacamole made fresh in the Nutri-Bullet with organic avocados, cilantro, onion, garlic and green chili

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Dinner Idea #1: Fettuccine Alfredo with seafood…but no butter means no alfredo sauce.
Dinner Idea #2: The boyfriend suggests BLTs. Again. Promptly vetoed with a scowl.
Dinner Idea #3: Pizza, the constant fall-back. He suggests Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza. But no ranch means no chicken bacon ranch pizza.
Dinner Idea #3.5: Sticking with the pizza, but how ’bout BBQ Chicken Pizza? Chicken, BBQ, crust, cheese, veggies – check!
Chicken BBQ Pizza

Inside Shish-Kabobs

I had been craving shish-kabobs like I always do at the first glimpse of grilling weather. But we didn’t want to mess with dragging out the grill and charcoal and firing everything up.

So: Inside Shish-Kabobs!

fresh domestic shishkabobs recipe

Chunks of red onions, green peppers, mushrooms and pineapple get sauteed in a skillet with some garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, and spices. Meanwhile, chicken breasts and steaks are thrown on the Foreman grill with some basic salt and pepper.

We skewered them after the fact, which reinforced the reason why they’re skewered before heat gets involved – those stinkers were hot! But these are Inside Shish-Kabobs, after all, and we were up for the sacrifice.

We drizzled a sauce of sriracha and honey barbeque over the heap of kabobs, served with quinoa on the side, and devoured more shish-ka-bobs than I ever thought possible.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

What’s better than a big, juicy slab of meat? Meat wrapped in more meat, that’s what.

This recipe is ridiculously simple, and it works double-time to quell a hunger twice as big as the effort it requires. So, in five easy steps:

1. Flatten a chicken breast.

2. Spread with cream cheese, top with onions. (The original recipe called for sweet onions. I had red, so that’s what I used, and topped it off with some fresh cilantro.)

3. Meanwhile, fry bacon but remove from heat before it starts to crisp.

4. Roll up chicken and wrap bacon around it, securing with toothpicks.

* Extra step: I thinly sliced a small potato, sprinkling with olive oil, salt, pepper and the remaining onions. If you slice it too thick, they won’t bake as fast as the chicken.

5. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. My oven runs hot, so for me it was more like 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Here’s what it looks like headed into the oven — pretty fancy already:

And the finished dish, with some sour cream and fresh parsley added to the potatoes:


Easter Traditions, Old & New

I thought the request would be a long shot, but I had been craving Grandma’s grilled chicken since grilling season ended last year. More recently, I’d been hoping mom might consider recreating the classic for our Easter dinner. Thanks to my oldest sister craving the same thing and even offering to provide the meat from her farm, our Easter menu was set.
There was plenty to look forward to during the four-hour drive from Cleveland back to Goshen, but that chicken was top-of-mind. My grandma was a legend in the kitchen, a role my mom began duplicating as soon as, I suppose, she had her first kitchen to be legendary in. Today, there are several versions of Mary Alice’s recipe for “BBQ” chicken floating around the family, but they’re not even worth posting here because (well, I need to protect the family secret, but also) the closest remaining recipe lives only in my mom’s head and relies her inherited ability to dump some of this and pour some of that to the keenest proportions.
The real secret of this recipe, though, is not what goes in but how it goes on. You can’t baste the chicken too often with this sauce while it’s on the grill – which helped quell the arguments over which granddaughter would help Grandma, because we could baste all we wanted without endangering the meal.
If there was a single meal to encapsulate my childhood, it would be Grandma’s grilled chicken. With green beans on the side, of course, and homemade bread – both of which joined our Easter spread this year.
Then there are the new traditions, and the experiments that may or may not become them. Like these Peep cupcakes I saw in Sweet Melissa’s in Rocky River and recreated myself. It’s not Easter – or any holiday, these days – without Peeps, and these were too adorable not to try. With green-dyed coconut and mini Cadbury eggs (and princess cupcake liners we found discounted to $.49/50), these became part of our centerpiece and doubled as dessert.
We also brought Grandma’s memory to the table via a purple hyacinth we picked from her gravesite after church. Next to it: an empty plastic Easter egg, which for our family will always represent, like the empty tomb, a promise of new life…


Avocado Chicken

This is my super easy take on a recipe I found on for “Chicken Avocado Melt”:

Pound chicken breast till thin. In one bowl, mix a couple tablespoons cornstarch to a teaspoon garlic salt. In another, beat an egg. In a third, pour a fourth a cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs. Dip chicken in bowls in order. Fry in olive oil in skillet, a couple minutes on each side. Place chicken in shallow baking dish. Top with thin slices of avocado and sprinkle with salt then a white shredded cheese, like provolone, mozzarella or swiss. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Would be good, and convenient, to fry remaining avocado slices as a side dish. (Coat in egg then breadcrumbs and fry.) Sprinkle with salt and dip in jalapeno ranch dressing.

Fajita Spaghetti

One of my favorite recipes — if not my favorite — featured on the blog so far.

Fajita Spaghetti Recipe
8 oz spaghetti
1 lb chicken
1 tsp canola oil
1 onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 sweet yellow pepper
1 can green chile peppers
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup taco sauce
1 envelope fajita seasoning*
Instead of buying fajita seasoning, I used this recipe:
DIY Fajita Seasoning
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
Heat oil in skillet on medium heat. Cook chicken 4 to 5 minutes on each side until center is not pink anymore. Remove from heat. (Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to directions.) Saute chopped onion and peppers in leftover oil till tender. Add chicken back in along with chiles, water, sauce and seasoning. Heat through. Toss with spaghetti.

Chicken Francese

Every time I went to an Italian restaurant with my friend, he’d order chicken francese. So began the search for a recipe that would live up to the standard set by professionals.

This was my first attempt, and it was a little bland. I ended up adding a lot of garlic, salt and pepper once it was finished. So it’s a work in progress.

1 lb chicken, cut or pounded thin
1 beaten egg with parsley added
oil to cover bottom of pan
seasoned flour: 3/4 cup flour with equal amounts of garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper

Dip chicken in seasoned flour. Dip into beaten egg then place in hot oil. Saute until golden brown. Drain.

In a saucepan, combine ingredients for sauce:
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cornstarch
4 drops lemon juice

Place cutlets in sauce and simmer on low heat, covered, for 5 to 10 min. Serve with pasta.

Anyone else have a more successful recipe they’ve tried?